Travel Reference
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tected by huge flaps made of leather which are called guarda monies (shrub guards), without
which both man and mount would be torn to pieces by the terrible thorns. For further protec-
tion the men often wear leather skull caps and jackets made of the same material, and an extra
leather protector is strapped across the horses' chests.
The next place of importance we reached was Jujuy, a pretty town in a big, fertile valley.
Here, as in Tucuman, sugar is grown and fine orange groves adorn the steep slopes. Nearly all
the plantation workers are pure Indians who come down from Bolivia for the harvest. There
is a saying that so long as sugar and coffee are consumed there will be slavery in the world,
and I had opportunity to observe that there is a great deal of truth in this. The ignorant and
poor Indians earn relatively fair salaries, but at the end of the harvest all the money paid to
them is back in the safes of the companies. Some of these concerns prohibit merchants to sell
their goods within their vast stretches of land, and run their own stores where things are sold
at criminal prices to the ignorant Indians, who sleep in huts made of sugar-cane, and the least
said about the conditions they live in the better. Pay-day is one of the worst sights in drunken
orgies that can be imagined, and, of course, all the drinks must be purchased at the company's
stores. Chemical wine and cheap sugarcane alcohol are sold at champagne prices, and when I
expressed my disgust to one of the superintendents of a certain company he told me that I was
ridiculously sentimental and that this was - commerce! I should not be at all surprised if these
lifted eyes, generously putting a bank note into the plate when the collection is handed around
the church whilst people behind whisper to each other what charming and liberal people Mr
and Mrs So-and-So are. After pay days there is no work done for two or three days, most of
the Indians not being in a condition to move or not having quite spent all their earnings.
The fame of these pay-day scenes had reached me long before, whilst I was in Buenos
Aires, but now I had the opportunity to see for myself that the accounts I had heard were only
too true. Early in the morning, after having received their pay 'without scruple knowing they
were justly entitled to it', the mestizos and Indians came flocking to the store. Coca leaves
(fromwhich cocaine isextracted, andwhich the Indians chew assome dotobacco), machetes,
the alcohol began to take effect, the place sounded like a stock exchange during a sensational
day.Thestorewasfilledwithvillainous-looking fellows,alldrinking,smoking,chewingcoca
and arguing in loud voices, some in bad Spanish and others in Quichua, the language of these
Indians. Some bought their supplies and took them outside where they drank squatting on the
gering towards their filthy quarters; a few were already sleeping where they happened to have
fallen. The store stood on a little hill and steps led up to its entrance, and I could not help feel-
ing amused when several men stumbled, rolled and bounced down into the ditch against the
fence below, where they remained fast asleep until next day.
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